“There is no document of civilization which is not at the same time a document of barbarism”, famously wrote Walter Benjamin. Many celebrated art objects, many items on display in museums, many monuments, if looked closely, also reveal the history of barbarism.
Priceless Kohinoor diamond which adorned the crown of Queen Victoria and which is on display at the Tower of London is the prized possession of Britain, the supreme colonial power of the past. The history of the Kohinoor is, however, the history of enormous greed and the blatant use of power. At other times, the Kohinoor reveals the history of appeasing the powerful or showing the powerless their place in the world.
The narrative of the Kohinoor also points to many gaps in its history which cannot be filled easily and as such it raises issues of historiography. It is here that conjecture and guesswork fills up for verifiable historical facts and a number of stories get woven around the diamond, making it the subject of legends and folklore. One belief associated with Kohinoor is that it brings misfortune and bad luck to its owner. What is certain is that the recorded history of Kohinoor is a tale of greed, the temporary buying of peace, and a display of power.